marine bio question


Mar 23, 2007
a question for all you marine biologists out there, my future dream is to get PH.D in marine bio and specialize in cephalopods so my question is what do i need to get to prepare myself ? i live on vancouver island Canada BC so ive been around the ocean my entire life i plan on going to the university of victoria. any input greatly appreciated.:snorkel::snorkel:

Enthusiasm beyond bounds, true passion for the beauty and intricateness of (marine) life, immunity to working in isolation, a fondness of :diamond_trans: and no adversity to good clean fun :cheers:

Find yourself a good school and learn the basics well: cladistics/evolution biology, behavioural studies, biochem(!), phys chem, the secret life of plants and kelp as well as that of archaea, prokaryota and the other eukaryota (non vertebrate and vertebrate), learn about ecology, niches, population dynamics, genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics etc. etc. and soon enough you'll find yourself drawn to one specific area that you or the professor you are trying to impress find fascinating. This might actually be of marine zoological nature, or not :wink:
the complete absence of anything approximating a real life, at least while obtaining that PhD....

Other than that, all the stuff Ob said above. And statistics.

Good luck! We definitely need more cephalopod biologists out there. might be helpful to look at.

My advice would be to work on learning, enthusiasm, and asking for opportunities: if there is an aquarium, research lab, or university near you, ask about volunteering, and see if you can sit in on classes or lectures (there's sometimes a delicate balance between being confident enough to ask but not so insistent, demanding, or impatient that you drive people nuts, though... often, people like to share their enthusiasm with younger or less experienced enthusiastic people, but professionals are usually pretty busy, too, so it's important to respect when they don't have time to help you or chat.) Also, reading a lot is good: the internet is often convenient, but sometimes useless... In my pre-internet life, I spent a lot of time browsing through university libraries' science sections. I'm not sure what your level is, but getting confident about reading "real" scientific literature (as opposed to "popular science" stuff that's aimed at non-pro audiences) is a helpful skill... it takes a bit of time to develop a thick skin to reading books where you have to look up every other word, and where you have to read the same page a number of times before it makes sense, but at least for me, that's a very important skill to have in researching scientific results. Some of that is that I dabble in all sorts of science, where I may not know the concepts and terminology, but I know how to recognize that the field has jargon and ways of thinking that anyone *can* learn with enough effort, so I don't (always) get frustrated and give up thinking that something is incomprehensible.

Sorry if this sort of went off on my own tangent; I'm thinking of this a lot because I'm sitting in on a class that's way over my head right now, but I'm surprising myself at my ability to pick up the details, so I'm thinking that's some of the advice I'd give my teenage-self if I could send a letter back in time...
thanks everyone. does anyone know were i can get some good reading ive cleaned my library out of anything usefull and the university is 2 1/2 hours away . ile read anything journals papers ect. thanks

Ranzan;109634 said:
thanks everyone. does anyone know were i can get some good reading ive cleaned my library out of anything usefull and the university is 2 1/2 hours away . ile read anything journals papers ect. thanks


What's your current education level, and how comfortable are you with pushing your limits, what particular topics on cephalopods (or marine biology, or general biology, or science) are you interested in, and do you have a budget for buying books? You also might be able to ask the library about "interlibrary loan" to get books from other libraries that aren't available at your local branch.

I like Richard Ellis' books, and they're pretty accessible. If you can find a copy of Wells' Octopus on interlibrary loan, that's a great, if old, book (it's very hard to buy a copy.) Hanlon & Messenger's Cephalopod Behavior is a fairly readable book even though it covers pretty cutting-edge science, so it's a good example of the sort of things that you'd be reading as a marine biologist without being too intimidating. I also just got a book called Wave-Swept Shore by Koehl and Rosenfeld that's a great one for explaining the science behind life in rocky shorelines and tidepools, and the related sciences that come into play in why the plants and animals are the way they are.

If you're really feeling like diving into the hard science, you can use google scholar to look up topics you're interested in, and while many papers will probably only be accessible from universities that have subscriptions, some are available online, many at cephbase: lists all the PDF format papers you can download from there (many of which are likely to be completely incomprehensible to non-specialists, though, so don't be discouraged if you download some and have to say :bonk: and give up... that happens to me all the time...)
10th grade but ive got a pretty good reading level it just takes me a little time to figure some of it out. i think ile try the interlibrary loan and take a look at ceph base. thanks

Thanks for the book reference Monty! I ordered it on Amazon in hopes that it will add to my understanding of how an aquarium "should" work.
dwhatley;109707 said:
Thanks for the book reference Monty! I ordered it on Amazon in hopes that it will add to my understanding of how an aquarium "should" work.

hmm, I hope I didn't inadvertently mislead you a bit... it's got a lot about things that are larger scale than an aquarium, like crashing waves and such... but I'll stand by the recommendation anyway, and if it inspires you to build a giant wave machine in your basement, so much the better!
No worries, I scanned for content and readability. I may have overstated my intent. I believe that the better you know how something works, the better your chances of emulating it. If wave crashing does "something" of importance then there may be other ways of providing that "something" so it may not be necessary to flood my house (again) to get the effect.

It also depends on what exactly you want to study and specialize in.

I don´t know exactly the curriculum of the canadian universities for biology, but I think you will start with your Bachelor of science in general biology. You can then go on and choose your Master of science topic. It usualy leads to your Ph.D thesis.
You can do cephalopod research in many ways, you can start as an ecologist, a zoologist, neuroscientist, marine scientist or even as a fishery expert (e.g. there are very interesting approaches for aquaculturing). You can do research with nearly every kind of scientific background - even as a computer specialist you can do interesting work. It all depends on your own effort.

You wrote, that you live in Vancouver. If I were you and wanted to study marine biology I would start there, because Vancouver is quite famous for it´s marine sciences.